Anatolius of Laodicea

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Saint Anatolius
Bishop and Confessor
Bornearly 3rd century
Alexandria, Ptolemaic Egypt
DiedJuly 3, 283
Laodicea, Roman Syria (now Latakia, Syria)
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church; Eastern Orthodox Church;
Feast July 3

Anatolius of Laodicea (early 3rd century – July 3, 283 [1] ), also known as Anatolios of Alexandria [2] , became Bishop of Laodicea on the Mediterranean coast of Roman Syria in AD 268. He was not only one of the foremost scholars of his day in the physical sciences as well as in Aristotelean philosophy but also a great computist: Around AD 260 he invented the very first Metonic 19-year lunar cycle (based on the Metonic cycle). [3] [4] [5] Therefore Anatolius can be considered to be the founder of the new Alexandrian computus paschalis which half a century after began with the active construction of the second version of the Metonic 19-year lunar cycle and ultimately would prevail throughout Christendom for a long time (until the year 1582, when the Julian calendar was replaced with the Gregorian calendar). [6] The seventeen centuries old enigma of his famous 19-year Paschal cycle was recently completely resolved by the Irish scholars Daniel Mc Carthy and Aidan Breen. [7] Between Anatolius’ 19-year lunar cycle and the (ultimately chosen) classical Alexandrian 19-year lunar cycle there exists a gap of 2 days which dates from before the first council of Nicaea. [8]

Anatolius is considered a saint by the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches


Anatolius was born and raised in Alexandria, Egypt, during the early 3rd century. Prior to becoming one of the great lights of the Church, Anatolius enjoyed considerable prestige at Alexandria. According to Eusebius of Caesarea, he was credited with a rich knowledge of arithmetic, geometry, physics, rhetoric, dialectic, and astronomy. [9] Also according to Eusebius, Anatolius was deemed worthy to maintain the school of the Aristotelian succession in Alexandria. [10] The pagan philosopher Iamblichus studied among his disciples for a short time. [11]

There are fragments of ten books on arithmetic written by him. There is also a treatise on time of the Paschal celebration [12] . His famous Paschal cycle has survived in seven different complete medieval manuscripts of the Latin text De ratione paschali. [13]

A story is told by Eusebius of the way in which Anatolius broke up a rebellion in a part of Alexandria known then as Bruchium. It was held by the forces of Zenobia, and being strictly beleaguered by the Romans was in a state of starvation. Anatolius, who was living in Bruchium at the time, made arrangements with the besiegers to receive all the women and children, as well as the old and infirm, continuing at the same time to let as many as wished profit by the means of escaping. It broke up the defence and the rebels surrendered. [14]

In going to Laodicea he was seized by the people and made bishop. Whether his friend Eusebius had died, or whether they both occupied the see together, is a matter of much discussion. The question is treated at length in the Bollandists.

St Anatolius' feast day, like that of his namesake Saint Anatolius of Constantinople, is celebrated on July 3. [15]


  1. "Lives of the Saints," Omer Englebert New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1994, p. 256
  2. Irby-Massie, Georgia L.; Keyser, Paul T. (2013). Greek Science of the Hellenistic Era: A Sourcebook (in Dutch). Routledge. ISBN   978-1-134-55639-7.
  3. Declercq (2000) 65-66
  4. Nothaft, C. Philipp E. (2011). Dating the Passion: The Life of Jesus and the Emergence of Scientific Chronology (200–1600). BRILL. p. 69. ISBN   978-90-04-21707-2.
  5. McCarthy, Daniel (1995). "The Lunar and Paschal Tables of De ratione paschali Attributed to Anatolius of Laodicea". Archive for History of Exact Sciences. 49 (4): 285–320. doi:10.1007/BF00374701. ISSN   0003-9519. JSTOR   41134008.
  6. Declercq (2000) 65-66
  7. Mc Carthy & Breen (2003) 15-143
  8. Zuidhoek (2019) 9-72
  9. Mc Carthy & Breen (2003) 18
  10. Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica 7.32.6.
  11. Eunapius, Lives of the Philosophers and Sophists
  12. Michaud & Michaud (1811-1855) 94
  13. Mc Carthy & Breen (2003) 25-43
  14. Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica 7.32.6-13
  15. Acta Sanctorum I (fifth century) July

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